Michael writes: Socialism is any freaking governmental system that hold society as the beneficiary and not the individual.
That is a classic example of a straw-man fallacy. Set up a straw man (in this case a personal, rather than accepted definition of socialism) and then swiftly attack it with great valor and vigor. Well, I don't think that the rest of the world shares your definition of socialism, so if you wish to set up straw-man arguments, fine, but don't expect that to make your case. So I am not going to engage you in a debate on your straw man. That is an exercise in pointlessness. I would suggest that instead, you accept and argue socialism on the basis of its proper and accepted definition ("worker ownership of the means of production"), and if you are willing to do that, I am willing to engage you. But I will not do so on the basis of any and all social evils to which you wish to apply that label.
In your very next sentence, you say, "Everything you have commented demonstrates that it is you that does not understand what it means to have a moral system that respects what should be respected." Besides that being perilously close to an ad-hominem attack, it suggests that my personal morality is somehow deficient. Well, I would suggest that promoting an economic system that tolerates, even encourages exploitation in the presence of more morally acceptable and economically successful alternatives, is itself morally blind at best and morally deficient at worst, and therefore, I would suggest, physician, heal thyself. The fact the moral foundation of my political philosophy is that I believe in social justice as a higher moral priority than personal self-enrichment at the cost of the exploitation of others, and if you find that to be morally deficient, then I would suggest that perhaps you would benefit from an introspection of your own value system.
The tone of your remarks, Michael, suggests to me that capitalism is for you not so much an economic model as it is a secular religion, and if so, I would suggest to you that you would also benefit from an introspection of the reasons for it having become so. Continuing to cite capitalism as a morally superior economic model, in light of what has been revealed about its habitual moral turpitude in the wake of the financial system collapse of 2008 and subsequent events, suggests a certain blindness to its habitual abuses. I would recommend that, rather than blindly accepting propaganda that simply appeals to your moral prejudices, you would be well served to instead open your eyes - and mind - to alternatives. I was once a capitalist as you are, even a libertarian at one point, and spent a good deal of time with the introspection with which I am now recommending. I quickly realized that it was morally unacceptable, and when I found morally superior alternatives that work better, I think you would find it helpful in coming to moral consistency. It took me awhile, but I think you can manage it too.
As John Maynard Keynes so famously said, "Capitalism is the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds."
Secular religion is an oxymoron. I have zero faith. That is a stupid argument.
Socialism IS any attempt or success in taking by force an individual's achievements for the use of the group (SOCIETY!!!). If you wish to use the socially accepted postmodern toned down version that makes it seems somewhat reasonable, go ahead. I don't care if you are not willing to have an objective discussion about it. The political argument has its fundamental base in morality. You consider the group as the important focus. I do not. Capitalism is the market, people acting in their rational self-interest. There is NO exploitation in trade. They are two completely diferent concepts. Those exploiting shoud be under penalty of law. Those creating profit, while paying workers for work, is what makes the economy run and they should not be penalized for it, whilst the needy are rewarded for their need. No amount of government controls can lead to prosperity. Every time the government intervenes, it does so to the detriment of the individual. It is the individual that makes decisions and produces. 2008 and the over 100 years before that are only an example of how governmental intervention has slowly inched us toward what we have now, a weak ass welfare state pulling us all down.
Your poor understanding of fairness is key. If I AGREE to sell the hot dogs that you make and get to keep less than you do, I am not being exploited. I am honoring a contract. I am free to get another job. 'Oh, but jobs are hard to get', cry me a river. You have no basis for your moral superiority. You can try to say that compassion is important and that there is some spiritual good or consciousness or that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but the fact remains, minds, decision making machines, are singular in nature and operate best when left alone. It is not practical to have a central agency, even by mob rule, making decisions about how we live our lives. If YOU were even a little bit intellectually honest you would go back before 2008 and realize that socialism fails throughout history, because it has a weak, mystical, philosophical base. Progress and prosperity and innovation occur when individuals are left relatively free.
Personal self-enrichment is the highest moral goal and does not, at all, entail hurting others, unless you arbitrarily add that. Learn your definitions. Selfishness does not entail, as an essential component, being mean to others. But, on the other hand, a welfare state does, in fact, entail, necessarily, coercion and immoral force.
You write: Secular religion is an oxymoron. I have zero faith. That is a stupid argument.
You have certainly demonstrated complete faith in capitalism, in the remarks you have already made, and I will assert that implies religion. It is cultish, by anyone's definition - and that implies secular religion - not all religions are theological.
Regarding socialism, again, I am not going to accede to engaging with you on the basis of your straw-man definition, no matter how many pejoratives you throw at me in your insistence that I use your definition. I don't argue fallacies.
You write: Selfishness does not entail, as an essential component, being mean to others. I would accede that it is not an essential component, but it often does include the disregard of the rights of and responsibilities to others. This is the principal defect with capitalism. For example, if a factory owner wishes to spew pollution from his smokestack and poison the community in which his factory is located, that would imply a lack of responsibility to the rights of others, even though he is not being deliberately "mean" to any one individual. If the community wishes to pass a law preventing him from doing so, would they be within their rights to enact such legislation? This is what economists call an "externality" - a capitalist externalizing his costs in the pursuit of his pure self interest. Pure selfishness, if taken as a virtue (as the Ayn Rand cult would have it) would suggest he is right to do so. I cannot agree, nor do I believe there to be any serious moral philosopher who would disagree with me. Yet the capitalist incentive is clearly to do so.
If, on the other hand, the community or workers' cooperative owns the means of production, they have the incentive to not poison themselves and their own families, and therefore, to not externalize that cost. That is but one example among many I could cite.
Regarding your assertion that socialism does not and cannot work, I would hasten to disagree. Even state capitalism, if you include that in your definition of socialism, can work, if it is kept transparent and accountable in a democratic political system - I know, because I live in an example nation. In 1948, at the conclusion of a civil war, Costa Rica was the poorest nation in Latin America, even more poor than Haiti. The victor in that civil war, Jose Pepe Figueres, began a program of social development, based on a mixture of state capitalism and worker cooperative movement socialism. The result was that by 1980, less than a generation later, Costa Rica was by far the richest nation in Latin America, per capita - so rich that when economic statistics were quoted for the region, they were routinely quoted with and without Costa Rica included, and it was seriously discussed whether or not Costa Rica was really a First-World nation. At the peak of the socialist program, fully 42 percent of the workforce worked either for the government directly or for one of the 240 corporations that the government owned, and the nation was seriously short of labor, actually welcoming refugees from the Nicaraguan civil war. Most of the rest were employed in worker-owned and managed cooperatives - traditional capitalist enterprises were a relatively small part of the economy. The profits from all those state capitalist enterprises were used to displace taxes and invest in health, education and infrastructure. Costa Rica went from having almost no infrastructure or health care to having the best and most extensive in the region, by far. All paid for by the profits from state capitalist enterprises. The taxes at the time were the lowest in Latin America. Many of the private enterprises were worker/producer cooperatives, organized by government, but owned and managed by their members. Dozens are still around and doing well. One of them, Cooperativa Lecheros Dos Pinos, R.L., has gone on to become by far the largest dairy producer in Central America, and is now moving into the U.S. market.
That socialist success all ended when Ronald Reagan became the U.S. president on the campaign slogan, "government isn't the solution, it's the problem." Everyone was saying, "well, what about Costa Rica? It's clearly been the solution there!" So Costa Rica's shining example had to be ended no matter what, and so end it, Ronnie did. In 1982, through Paul Volker, his Fed chairman, he engineered a debt crisis (by raising interest rates to be paid on Latin American external debt, from less than 3% to over 22%), and forced Costa Rica into a debt/currency crisis. As a condition of an IMF bailout, Costa Rica was forced to accept typical "neoliberal" reforms - privatize nearly all of those corporations, vastly reduce spending on health, education and infrastructure, rely on taxation instead of profits from state capitalist enterprises, and become more like its neighbors economically. The result is that Costa Rica today is little different than its neighbors, and almost no major infrastructure projects have been completed since the socialist era ended. Nearly all the infrastructure in use in Costa Rica today was begun, and most of it completed, during the socialist era. It is now largely obsolete and slowly decaying, and as it does, Costa Rica is slowly regressing economically.
So don't tell me that state capitalism and socialism can't work. I know better. I see evidence of it all around me every day.
Still a stupid argument. I base my convictions on reason and they change if I am proven wrong, which you knuckleheads don't even come close to doing. I have no leader. I read and am influenced by a lot more than Ayn Rand, whom I think is irrational in a few ways. And regardless of what a dogmatic Objectivist may say about someone who is polluting the air with their business, I think destroying what others have just as much right to is an offense that should, in fact, be taxed, or criminalized, depending on the damage it does.
You say that selfishness does not necessarily essentially entail being mean to others and then you say that sometimes it does. No. That is, sometimes, someone is also something else besides appropriately selfish and tramples on someone else. It is not the selfishness, but the disregard and offense. They are different things.
You can take a small piece of history and quote whatever numbers you like....you're like a Palestinian or Israeli going back to whatever part of history they like and bring up a couple points. I prefer to look at human behavior, throughout history, as well as the nature of choice and responsibility and come to the conclusion that even before you think that you can make some gain with other people's money, it is first and foremost an affront to individuals' personal, human, or whatever rights you choose to call them. It is you with the aggression. You MAY help some people, but you will, by nature of reality, also necessarily bring others down. Costa Rica, The United States of America or whoever else suits your fancy are successful and productive in as much as the individuals create. It is not the unfair, physically coerced redistribution of wealth and bureaucratic reward of need with corrupt government officials voting as influenced by special interest groups that causes prosperity. We are prosperous despite our government not because of it. That's what made the two main world changing societies, Ancient Greece and the US, so successful initially, their respect of the individual. The more the government gets involved the worse it gets (on average, over time). Of course the only way to make the poor better off, since they won't do it themselves (many of them) is to steal from the rich. I think we're better than that. I know you think having overwhelming compassion is more important, but again, like I said, it will always come down to basic ethics. You think a person's life is not theirs completely. I do.
Actually religion oft time was more than a place holder. During its more tranquil and human periods, when burning heretics was out of favor, many explorations into nature of the world were encouraged by the church and members of the clergy were the best suited at the time (they could read). This was true in all 3 of the Abrahamic branches.
But , unfortunately, the opposite usually applies as a general rule.– scientific investigations were proscribed, the work of the scientists was destroyed as was an occasional scientist. Writings, artifacts and the knowledge of many cultures was eradicated by churches.
While the tiny light of knowledge that flickered through the Dark Age was preserved by the church - it was the fucking church that brought the era of darkness onto the heads of the people in the first place.
And why is my name in this post?
If, by chance it is because you think that I think that socialism and mysticism don't go hand in hand, you are wrong. If it is not, I would think it was a type-o.
"the left wants (money) more to grow the welfare state and the poor. . ." so it won't be right "until we stop penalizing productivity and rewarding need. . ."
Yes, what is it you do not get, Alexa? The left more than the right, but both are for wealth redistribution (rewarding those who need rather than those who produce). Rewarding need does not help someone out of the lower income bracket; it just about guarantees their place there and the amount of people who are created by those who cannot provide for their children is multiplying fast. We, the government and our forced taxation, subsidize poor people to have more children that they cannot educate. It's retarded.
Marx: From those according to their ability to those according to need (wealth redistribution, socialism, slavery).
The right wants lower taxes than the left, sure, but no one on either side, except maybe Ron Paul, wants individual rights and thus freedom respected.